Monthly Archives: November 2015

Georgia Fires Mark Richt – Commentary

The University of Georgia announced today that Mark Richt would be stepping down as head coach after the bowl game. While officially stated as a “mutual decision”, all indications were that Richt wanted to return as head coach next year. As expected, the news was met with a mixed reaction, many acknowledging Richt’s overall high winning percentage with others noting the recent poor record in big games and lack of division titles.

No one wants to see a man lose their job, and by all accounts, Richt was honest, down-to-earth, genuine person and he spends his off time doing charitable and missionary work. But with the very high salary and profile of the Head Coach of a major football program, comes the cold hard facts of the performance on the field. Let’s look at those facts and see why Georgia made the difficult, but correct decision (part 1).

It started great… Richt was phenomenally successful his first eight years as Georgia Head Coach. The bulldogs finished in the AP rankings all 8 years, with 4 top 10 appearances. Georgia had the 6th highest winning percentage in the nation during that time period. True, UGA did not appear in any BCS Title games, but that was more a factor of luck. During those same years, LSU became the first national champion with 2 regular season losses after #2 West Virginia lost to a 4-7 Pitt squad the last week of the season. And Urban Meyer got a title at Florida in 2006 –in order for the Gators to get into the BCS Championship game, #2 USC had to lose to 6-5 UCLA (who would follow up that win by getting blown out in the Walnut Bowl). So no BCS good fortune for Richt, but he had the program rolling.

But the last 6 full seasons (2009-2014) have not been nearly as productive. UGA finished outside the AP Top 25 in half the years, and more notably, is tied for 21St for winning percentage amongst the FBS programs during that time. By comparison, Richt took over when Jim Donnan was fired after the 2000 season. Donnan’s winning percentage ranked 12th in the nation for the previous 4 years, much higher than the ranking of Richt’s program the past 6. Richt was given extra opportunity to turn the program around, and this year was likely the final opportunity. The blow-out loss to Alabama at home was painful, but the bizarre decision on the starting quarterback versus Florida made it appear that Richt was out of answers. And seeing the Gators with a first year coach not just win but dominate the Bulldogs was the last straw for the Georgia administration.

Georgia should never be the 21st best program in the nation. The administration made the difficult first part of the move to improve the program, but now needs to make the 2nd part. Mark Richt was a good hire at that place and time; can they make the right hire this go round?